Michio Hasai Michio Hasai is a social strategist and car guy. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

This robotic arm can catch things better than humans can

45 sec read

Have nobody to play catch with? This robotic arm, developed by EPFL researchers, is probably more coordinated and athletic than most people. Just look at it in action; it catches everything, from a tennis racket to a rolled up magazine, without breaking a sweat. Notice how it even casually moves to the side and catches the object being tossed to it, very human-like. I wonder if, once the technology is fine-tuned, the position of baseball catcher will be threatened in the future.

Major League Baseball probably hasn’t even considered the idea of allowing teams to add artificial players to their rosters. But games would certainly be a lot more exciting if this EPFL arm—that can react in less than five hundredths of a second to catch an object—were to take the field. The robot arm seems particularly well suited to sports applications since it doesn’t required hours of programming to teach it how to make a catch. Instead, its creators have developed a system where the arm can be moved in real time by a human who teaches it how to catch a tossed object. Once it’s got the basics down, the arm can use its camera-based tracking systems to refine its movements and snatch tossed objects before they hit the ground.

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Michio Hasai Michio Hasai is a social strategist and car guy. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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